A little bit more stressed than yesterday? Just when we thought things were getting back to normal in terms of Covid-19 (at least in the UK), it seems that some areas of human interaction are closing down again. How do we respond? I'm in danger of losing perspective and, maybe, hope. Will we ever again be able to meet as a church youth group? The answer isn't a simple, 'Of course we will, don't worry.'
I'm struck by these verses in Isaiah 40.1-2:
"Comfort, comfort my people,"
says your God.
"Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins."
God's words to his people in exile are not, 'It serves you right,' but nor are they a cheery, 'It'll be alright.' Instead, God gives himself to his people, speaking words of comfort and tenderness.
Read on in Isaiah 40 and we read of God himself coming to rescue his people. We read of a powerful but loving shepherd (v.10-11):
"See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young."
This is an eternal truth that we have to hang on to, when life feels out of control, if not hopeless. Jesus said, 'I am the good shepherd' (John 10.11) and said, of his sheep, 'No one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.' (John 10.29). We are safe, not because we can solve this, nor because the situation will resolve itself, but because we are in the hand of our loving Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep. Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash
That doesn't mean we stop working towards a vaccine, nor that we forget about social distancing. It does mean that, while we do those things, we, as God's people, can take comfort and be at peace.
I wonder if we're called, at this time in our Church history, as youth leaders, to give ourselves again to young people, to speak words of comfort and tenderness from the Good Shepherd who loves them so much.
Dave Thornton is author of 'Raising the Bar: Nearly everything you need to know about Christian youth ministry'. Buy the book here.